The Greatest Things To Do And See In The Marolles

Claudia Kerkhof

The Marolles is an old but lively Brussels neighborhood located between the Palace of Justice and the Brussels-South railway station. By exploring its charming streets lined with antique and vintage shops, along with its small galleries and flea market, you’ll undoubtedly be won over by its unique atmosphere. The following are the reasons the Marolles is worth discovering.

Jeu de Balle

Vintage hunt at Place Jeu de Balle

First of all, the Marolles neighborhood is synonymous with Place Jeu de Balle, which is actually the most well-known flea market in Brussels. Open everyday from 7am to 2pm, you can find absolutely anything: from old silver rings, posters and pins to Zenith photo cameras, vintage jukeboxes, bikes, and even retro refrigerators. Each seller has a special personality, so if you’d like to negotiate then choose your words wisely.

Palais de Justice

The Palais de Justice

One feature you will definitely notice while wandering around the eastern part of the Marolles is the cupola of the Palace of Justice, which watches over the town. Prepare to take a big step backwards and tilt your head upwards to see the building entirely, since this mammoth architectural feat has a surface area of more than 20,000 m² (it is larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican). It was built at the end of the 19th century in the neoclassical style and was once the biggest courthouse in the world. It also has the reputation of being the largest building built in the 19th century.

Palais de Justice, Poelaertplein 1, Brussels, Belgium

Place Poelaert

Visit an Architectural Delight: Église Notre-Dame de la Chapelle (Our Lady of the Chapel)

Constructed in the 13th century in a Romanesque style, Notre-Dame de la Chapelle is the oldest church in Brussels. Having survived through a fire, a bombardment and many reconstructions, it was later marked by the transition to the Gothic style. Not only does this church draw attention from the outside with its statues, arches, and richly decorated windows, but the interior is worth a visit, too. Inside the chapel, you will also find the tomb of the famous Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Place de la Chapelle 1, Brussels, Belgium

Les Brigittines

Enjoy Performances at the Brigittines Chapel

What was once a little church has become a site for contemporary dance and performance. Built in the 17th century, Les Brigittines was first a baroque-style chapel and subsequently inherited many other functions – it has been used as a warehouse for books, a military pharmacy, an arsenal warehouse, a school, and even a slaughterhouse. This monument’s rich history was taken to a new level in 2007, when a second chapel was built as a modern extension in order to open the space up to new artistic projects. Mainly used as an arts center in Brussels, the building also hosts the Brigittines International Festival.

Petite Rue des Brigittine, Brussels, Belgium

Le Marseillais

Une petite bière, on a soif! (Give us some beer, we’re thirsty!)

The lyrics of a Belgian song from almost fifty years ago. Well, the Marolles will fulfill this desire and you’ll never be thirsty thanks to the many bars you can find at Place Jeu de Balle and its surroundings. The Chaff, La Brocante, and Le Marseillais are great drinking options around the clock and are among the Bruxellois’ preferred spots to converge. There is also Pin Pon, a resto-bar installed in an on old fire station or Pianocktail, a dive bar which features a piano that distributes cocktails. These are a few places left in Brussels where you can experience real life as it was in the olden days.

Atelier des Tanneurs

1. Visit the Organic Market

Market, Belgian

From Wednesday to Sunday, the Atelier des Tanneurs hosts a really fine organic market where you can find all the groceries you need at a really good price. On Sundays it’s always full and you’ll even see a queue of people waiting to enter. Be prepared for an explosion of smells and tastes thanks to the fresh, organic products brought from sustainable and trustworthy producers. The Halle Gate | © Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr

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